About 10 years
ago I was at The Hardware Show in Chicago visiting manufacturer’s
booths to see what new stuff they had coming out for Christmas.
of these tools would stretch credulity. Some of them never saw the
light of day. Some of them were so awful that even women in bikinis
(so-called “booth babes”) could not generate any interest in the
manufacturer’s abortive wares.
And then there was the chisel/rasp
combination tool made by Cooper Tools. When I first laid eyes on it in
Chicago I thought the sales rep was putting us on.
“It’s a chisel with rasp teeth on the shank of the blade,” he said. “Two handy tools in one!”
“How are you going to flatten the back of the chisel with all those teeth there?” I asked.
“Why would you flatten the back,” he asked?
“To sharpen it,” I replied.
“Ah,” the rep replied, smiling. “No need. This tool comes sharp!”
usually when I see a tool like this I just ignore it. Boneheaded ideas
like this usually end up in a mass grave with the bones of dodo birds,
passenger pigeons and AMC Pacer automobiles. But a couple weeks ago I
stumbled on a set of these tools for sale – new – on Amazon.
These tools must be stopped. So I bought a set of three to take a look. They are as bad as I feared.
tools are incredibly heavy. The rasp teeth are coarse and not very
aggressive. They manage to make more of a farting sound than any
scratches in the wood. Of course, it doesn’t help things that you have
to use the rasp one-handed – grabbing the chisel tip is ill-advised.
is it? The chisel edge is as sharp as Lennie from “Of Mice and Men.” And
when you do pound the chisel into a piece of wood (thank you Mongo the
Mallet) the tool stops dead after 1″ because the rasp teeth dig into
And the worst thing of all? They are branded as Nicholson – the once-great rasp maker.
But if this tool can succeed in the marketplace for 10 years, what other opportunities are toolmakers missing out on?
• Put rasp teeth on the sidewalls of bench planes. Heck, those surfaces aren’t doing anything. Put them to work!
A combination square with the edges of the rule sharpened like a knife.
It’s a marking knife and combination square all in one!
• A battery operated C-clamp (Oops. That one exists.)
Got a dumber idea? Post it in the comments.
— Christopher Schwarz
Other Stupid Ideas
Last year I wrote another column about the stupidest woodworking
devices. Readers had a long list of ones to add. Check that entry out here.
• And just to prove that our industry isn’t above criticism, check out this entry on the most ridiculous woodworking book titles. This one still makes me laugh.